St. Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. “Resting in God” sounds like a great idea but it often seems we are too busy to take time to rest in God. The restlessness continues. So we try to do or schedule just a little bit more, thinking that maybe that restless feeling will go away. My experience, however, is that it never completely goes away. That restless feeling is God calling to us.
“Resting in God” is our spiritual discipline. In many ways the Season after Pentecost calls us to practice resting in God. It is the long green season in which we are to learn and grow in our discipleship. During this time God is calling us to rest in God’s presence, to experience his love, and live our Christian faith in ordinary everyday life. It is a reminder of and a time to acknowledge and experience God’s presence and God’s faithfulness in the mundane day-to-day stuff of our lives. I sometimes call it “sacred monotony.”
Resting in God does not mean that we simply sit around and do nothing. It does not necessarily mean that we have to give up our daily schedule and tasks – though some changes might be in order. Everything we do – work, study, play, errands – can be considered as prayer in the sense that what we do and who we are connects us to the reality of God.
Laundry, working, car-pooling, family obligations, cooking, shopping, paying the bills, home repairs, going to the doctor, running errands, school and studying, vacation…. You know as well as I that the list goes on and on. Our calendar says look at all we have to do. The Church offers us the Season after Pentecost and says look at all the opportunities you have to practice resting in God.
Many of the things we have on our calendar and to-do lists are the result of prior relationships and blessings. So maybe we go through our day with thanksgiving – for the food we have to cook, the clothes we have to wash, the house we have to repair, for the friends or family we are feeding, the kids we are car-pooling, and the doctors who care for us.
This is the ancient practice of mindfulness. Ordinary life becomes our prayer. Abandonment to Divine Providence (also known as The Sacrament of the Present Moment) by Jean-Pierre de Caussade and The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence are classic books teaching about this practice. As we continue in the practice of mindfulness our focus shifts from the task to be completed to the underlying blessings and relationships and we find ourselves resting in God.
Thomas Merton, a 20th century Trappist monk, explained it like this:
The requirements of a work to be done can be understood as the will of God. If I am supposed to hoe a garden or make a table, then I will be obeying God if I am true to the task to be done. To do the work carefully and well, with love and respect for the nature of my task and with due attention to its purpose, is to unite myself with God’s will in my work.
Thank you, Michael, for the article on “Resting in God” – a good reminder of “mindfulness” to me.
How I thank you Father Mike for this June 22nd Word presented as fresh flowing spring water on this “wilderness day” in the city. This restlessness that is felt draws me to more fully “rest in God” at the only true Spring of Living Waters, in Christ Jesus as Logos, both in Holy Scripture and in the present moment which is the only “holy” moment given me by God. Whether among the pots and pans or in hoeing of a garden, ironing clothes, encounter with another person, or just simply doing what needs to be done within my life style. God rested on the seventh day, after all His work of Creation. I must take time/ or allow time to take me into the “rest-amidst-the- work”, for God is Present, Emmanuel, with me/us.
May Sunday live in my heart each day of the often monotonous week! Help me, Lord, to Love with all my heart in the midst of it all!
Nun Helen, I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and insight. Sabbath rest should not be the exception to daily life but the way of daily life.
Thank you for these good thoughts.
That restless feeling is God’s presence, and I’ve learned that the awareness of the LACK of God’s presence is ALSO God!
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Yes, Jan. Thank you for your comment. You describe presence in the midst of absence – the experience of longing. We don’t long for the other because they are absent but rather, because we love them.
Yesterday I “stumbled” upon your blog post entitled Doing the Math.
That I should land on that particular post after I had just posted a blog entry on the same gospel account sounds like a mere coincidence, but of course we know it’s not.
I had just finished writing my post and was hoping to find a suitable picture of the twelve baskets of leftover bread to include in the post.
I found your blog instead.
Hope you don’t mind my doing so, but I just had to include a link to your post at the bottom of my June 30 entry. It was just so timely and relevant.
Your blog is a cave full of treasures for me.
For sure this will not be my last visit.
There seems to be a kingdom connection that has drawn me to your writings.
I can only thank God for leading me here.
Just thought I’d let you know. Many prefer and find it more convenient to remain as anonymous readers of other people’s blogs.
Lidia, thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I appreciate you reading my blog and including a link on your post. I look forward to following your writing. I apologize for being so long in responding to your comment but have been out of town and did not have internet access.
Peace be with you, Mike+
The idea of rest is fundamental to Syriac Orthodox Christianity. The Aramaic word is “neho” and it has the idea of floating in the hand of God. The word constantly pops up in Syriac daily prayer and is mentioned frequently by St Ephrem
Father Dale, it is good to hear from you, thank you. I love the imagery of “floating in the hand of God.” “Neho” is a new word for me. I am glad to have learned of this. I hope you are well.
Hi Fr Mike,
It’s indeed a very inspiring article. In the midst of activity we can find the grand of activity, that is, observing the presence of God.